Football: Brown gives Hammers a lift towards their Premier target

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Swindon Town. . . . . . . . . . . . .1

West Ham United . . . . . . . . . . .3

IT IS goals that count, and the count that matters most of all takes place on Saturday at those Twin Parks, Upton and Fratton, when West Ham and Portsmouth seek the victory, but one of sufficient goals, to clinch their place in the Premier League.

Kenny Brown's late effort with his first touch, a minute after coming on as a substitute, brought West Ham's goals total to 79, one more than Pompey's, with both rival pursuers locked on 85 points. So, if they maintain the differential at home to Cambridge, second place will be theirs. Alternatively they can win by one fewer than do Pompey against Grimsby and take it by dint of fewer goals conceded.

Each could yet rise automatically if Newcastle fail to take two points from their last three outings. A Hammers defeat at the County Ground yesterday would have guaranteed Kevin Keegan promotion, but a professional performance, illuminated by Clive Allen's goalscoring return, means that achievement has to be delayed until tomorrow at least.

Allen, appearing for the first time since 16 January, was a fully-employed footballer for just seven minutes when his second-half finish effectively finished off Swindon.

Allen's return could hardly be better timed because it is now a case of all goalscorers on deck, although he later revealed he had picked up a hamstring injury. In opposition, Portsmouth can put forward Guy Whittingham, their main man who already has 46 to his name this season.

Who has the easier last day? Cambridge need at least a draw to have a chance of staying up. Grimsby have nothing to play for, but will it be a case of uninhibited or uninterested?

Swindon saw a penalty appeal following Martin Ling's plunge in the area denied and a glaring Steve White miss in their more promising start. However, Trevor Morley's acceptance of Mark Robson's 43rd-minute pass gave the visitors an ascendancy they never looked likely to release.

Mickey Hazard reduced the arrears on the hour when Ludek Miklosko let slip Brian Marwood's shot, only for Brown to weigh in with the Hammers' third seven minutes from time.

Swindon Town: Digby; Summerbee, Viveash (Marwood, 29), Hoddle, Calderwood, Taylor, Hazard, MacLaren, Mitchell, Ling, White (Maskell, h/t).

West Ham United: Miklosko; Breacker, Dicks, Potts, Gale, Bishop, Robson (C Allen, 51), Butler, Speedie, Morley (Brown, 82) Keen.

Referee: T Holbrook (Walsall).